Listen From the archives: Wendell Anderson resigns as governor
Nov 10, 1976
Listen MPR 50th: Gov. Anderson's move to the Senate
Throughout 2017, Minnesota Public Radio will celebrate 50 years on the air by sharing highlights from our archives, connecting Minnesota's past to its present. | This special production by MPR News originally aired Nov. 10, 1976.
Minnesota was about to be down a senator in 1976 when Democratic Sen. Walter Mondale was elected as Jimmy Carter's vice president.
So two men devised a plan that would shake up three of the state's most powerful offices.
Mondale would give up his Senate seat. It would then be up to the governor, Wendell Anderson, to appoint a replacement.
But Anderson didn't choose anyone — he and Lt. Gov. Rudy Perpich made a different arrangement.
Anderson would step down from the governor's office, leaving Perpich in charge. Perpich would then make Anderson the U.S. senator. Mondale would become vice president and Perpich the governor.
That left Perpich and Anderson with the incumbent advantage in the 1978 election, in which both the governor's office and Mondale's old Senate seat were on the ballot.
It didn't work out so well for the DFLers.
Minnesota voters handed both men losses, and Republicans Al Quie and Rudy Boschwitz won the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, respectively. Quie won by more than 100,000 votes and Boschwitz defeated Anderson in a landslide — taking over 56 percent of the vote.
Four decades later, the governor's office showed it had some institutional memory. Gov. Mark Dayton, whose seat will be open in 2018, was recently asked about speculation he'd resign before his term is up. That would leave Lt. Gov. Tina Smith with the incumbent's upper hand, if she opts to run.
• July 2016: Wendell Anderson, state's 33rd governor, dead at 83
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Dayton knew better than to risk a repetition of history. Citing the events of the late '70s, he said he'll finish his term, leaving the ever-growing slate of candidates to fight it out among themselves.